What Happens to Special Needs Children When Their Parents Die?From the moment a child is born, all parents – except for the terrible ones – worry about that child. But if that child has special needs, that worry and concern can be joined with fear. Even into adulthood.

This is the case for more and more American families. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 59 kids have autism, a 15 percent increase over the past two years. Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disorder in the United States, and while it is not the only disorder affecting families with special needs children, it is the most prevalent. And as these children become adults and their parents become elderly, the fear becomes equally prevalent.

There are lots of sources to help parents through the tumultuous task of navigating care for a disabled child. But what happens to these children when the parents are no longer able to care for them because of their own disability or death? There’s only one thing to do: Prepare. Here’s our guide to help ensure your special needs child is cared for personally and financially, even when you can’t be there to do it.

A special needs planning checklist

When planning for your special needs child, key areas to consider are:

  • Securing stable living conditions
  • Taking advantage of available public benefits, such as Medicaid, to pay for living expenses
  • Possibly obtaining a guardianship for your adult child
  • Setting up a special needs trust that can make sure that the money you leave to your child can pay for the things public funds won’t cover

Look to the future

Parents need to consider the financial needs, living arrangements, transportation, social interaction and all other things that go in to making anyone’s life an enjoyable one. Public funds, such as Medicaid, can help provide money for some living expenses, housing and healthcare. And public programs through the Illinois Department of Human Services offer day services for eligible special needs adults like employment opportunities, vocational training and more, as well as Community Integrated Living Arrangements.

This assistance, however, may not address all of the child’s needs or wants as you would like. Creating an estate plan that focuses on special needs is the most effective and complete way to safeguard your child and make sure the finances are available so that they are taken care of with respect and dignity, even after you die.

No one can care for your child the way you can. If you’re a parent of a special needs child and you’re facing the incredible fear of wondering what will happen to them after you’re gone, please contact us. We are experienced in working with families like yours, but also recognize that your situation is unique. We’ll take the time to help you through this complex, stressful process in a way that lessens the stress, removes the fear and leaves you knowing that when you’re gone, your child will be cared for and their needs will be met.

It’s the most caring thing a special needs parent can do.